Preventing SARS | American Lung Association

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Preventing SARS

Note: An outbreak of SARS occurred in 2003 and started in China but progressed worldwide before it was contained. There have been no cases of SARS anywhere in the world since 2004.

How SARS Is Prevented

Preventing SARS is similar to preventing any viral respiratory infection.  The best way to prevent infections include avoiding close contact with affected individuals. Using good hand washing with soap and water is important.  Encourage people with viral respiratory infections to cover their mouth when coughing or sneezing.

With SARS, stricter measures are needed. Because patients with SARS are usually hospitalized, the healthcare team will take care to ensure these proper ways to prevent spread of infection to visitors, other patients and hospital staff. People are more likely to spread the SARS virus to others after they have started having symptoms. People are most contagious between 7 and 10 days after symptoms begin, but people can continue to shed the virus, and thus continue to be contagious for another 2 weeks. Patients with SARS should avoid contact with other people as much as possible until 10 days after their symptoms have resolved. The virus can survive on surfaces for as long as 6 days. It can be killed by washing with bleach or other household detergents.


    This content was developed in partnership with the CHEST Foundation, the philanthropic arm of the American College of Chest Physicians.


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